[Fun technology fact: As of this column I began editing the pieces on a new piece of software I'd purchased, one of the first ever WYSIWYG html editors on the market, meaning I could type them in something resembling a proper word processor for the first time in ages. MediaTech Arcweb was the package in question it appears, of which there seems no trace left online.]
1 EARTH SONG (Michael Jackson)
Whilst the vast majority of the pre-Christmas hits unravel below him, Michael Jackson continues to reign supreme, notching up no less than a sixth week at the top of the charts. It is interesting to obeserve that whilst the lower end of the single chart has speeded up to almost frantic levels over the last few years, turnover at the top of the charts has if anything slowed to a crawl. Michael Jackson's hit was the 17th Number One single of 1995, which compares with 15 in 1994 and 1993 and which still falls short of the 1980s average of 20 different records at the top of the charts. Draw whatever conclusions you wish from that fact, suffice it to say that it is clear that.the biggest chart hits are getting bigger than ever and selling in greater quantities for longer periods of time.If the logical course of event prevail, then this week should be his last week at Number One, the honours going to what I suspect will be yet another instant chart-topper from yet another resurgent superstar.
3 SO PURE (Baby D)
The biggest new hit of the week is the third hit single for Baby D which takes advantage of the still sluggish record sales for the new year to land an instant Top 3 position. They have taken their time to land these few hit singles, the first of these coming in November 1994 with the Number One Let Me Be Your Fantasy. That was followed in June 1995 with 'I Need Your Loving', the remake of the Korgis hit which reached Number 3. That peak is now matched by this new hit which follows a similar formula, a thumping house piano coupled with what is actually quite a strong pop song. A big hit, but it will struggle to get much further in the fact of competition next week.
4 MISSING (Everything But The Girl)
5 WONDERWALL (Oasis)
Meanwhile the pre-Christmas hits refuse to go away. Not only is Missing Everything But The Girl's biggest hit single ever it is also one of the most static the charts have seen for a long time. After 3 weeks at Number 5 it climbs the charts yet again, back up to the Number 4 position it occupied just before the holiday yet still short of its original Number 3 peak. The single has now spent 12 weeks in the charts and in the Top 10 - 9 of these have been in the Top 5. Oasis too continue to be resurgent as Wonderwall continues its slow and steady climb back up the Top 10 that most people thought it had vacated for good many weeks ago. The single, which peaked at Number 2 at the start of November, had dropped down to Number 11 but since the Christmas period has slowly climbed back into contention.
6 CREEP '96 (TLC)
Waterfalls was for many one of the best R&B singles of last year and its Number 4 peak in August finally helped establish TLC in this country after many failed attempts. One of those failed attempts was the US smash Creep which was first released in January 1995 when it could only reach Number 22. Now it gets a barely perceptible remix and upon its re-release crashes straight into the Top 10 to give the girls the second biggest hit of their career as a followup to Diggin' On You which reached Number 18 in November last year.
11 WHY YOU TREAT ME SO BAD (Shaggy featuring Grand Puba)
Overall it was a good 1995 for Shaggy with his first Top 10 hit for two years, followed by a massive worldwide Number One smash with Boombastic thanks largely to its use in a jeans advert. Now he faces the task of building on that success, something he failed to do in 1993 when Oh Carolina was a chart-topper. This time around he appears to be succeeding as this new hit lands just outside the Top 10. It will probably struggle to become as big a hit as his past few efforts, featuring less of the humour that made Boombastic such a commercial hit.
13 JUST THE ONE (Levellers)
Big commercial hits have never been part of the Levellers' overall career plan but they will certainly be pleased with the success of Just The One. Their singles are normally tossed into the breach to hit a chart peak and then sink, but this particular track has bucked the trend, spending a fourth week just outside the Top 10 which makes it far and away their most successful hit ever.
14 FOR THE DEAD (Gene)
As Gene battle to ignore the constant stream of music press comparisons with the Smiths they release another single from Olympian and score their biggest hit to date, beating the Number 18 peak of the title track from the album back in July last year.
15 LUMP (Presidents Of The USA)
A cautionary tale. The participants are one J.Masterton and another "friend" who shall remain nameless.
James: Listen, you know that Presidents of the USA record? I've not heard it, what does it sound like?
"Friend": Oh that, quite good actually I've got a great remix of it.
James: So it's a dance track?
"Friend": Er... yeah.
[and that boys and girls is how you creatively wriggle out of a rather daft error rather than just fronting up to the mistake].
Wiping the egg aside, Lump becomes one of a number of records at the lower end of the charts to take advantage of the lack of major new releases to actually climb the chart this week, this one up two places and growing in popularity all the time.
19 NOT SO MANIC NOW (Dubstar)
Despite the growing popularity of this track, Dubstar's biggest hit to date slides a place to possibly kill of any chance of it progressing much further. I suspect this will not matter too much as this is almost certainly not the last we will hear from the group this year and the fact that the song contains the line 'I was making myself the usual cup of tea' has probably made it one of the singles of the year for many people [what, already?].
22 REACH (Judy Cheeks)
Signing to Positiva records in the early 1990s was possibly one of the best moves of Judy Cheeks' long career. After decades as a respected soul voice she finally got around to following all her famous contemporaries into the charts and having hit singles. For the new year she reappears with a re-release of a hit of hers from 1994, Reach having peaked at Number 17 in May of that year and it follows on from her two hits in 1995, Respect and As Long As You Are Good To Me.
23 TELL IT TO MY HEART (Taylor Dayne)
The first curious covers battle of the year explodes into life this week as Q-Club's cover of Tell It To My Heart is joined by the original version. Actually the battle appears to be over even before it has started with Q-Club dropping to Number 39 in the fact of competition from Taylor Dayne. The re-release of her biggest hit (Number 3 in 1988) comes in the face of a Greatest Hits collection, a fact which is causing many people to wonder just what her other hits were. Although that is a little unfair, Taylor Dayne has never really consolidated the success that befell her in the late 1980s, struggling to chart a number of her American smashes. Her last hit came in July 1993 when she took a cover of Barry White's Can't Get Enough Of Your Love to Number 14. The sad thing is that Tell It To My Heart was one of the most perfect pop songs of the 1980s yet for this release has been massacred in the shape of a remix which rips out the very heart of the track. I always preferred Prove Your Love anyway...
24 LITTLE BRITAIN (Dreadzone)
Another hit to make a small advance is Dreadzone's rather charming dance instrumental which climbs an impressive 7 places this week.
27 HIDE-A-WAY (Nu Soul featuring Kelli Rich)
The only semi-anonymous dance hit to make an impact this week comes from Nu-Soul who get their first Top 40 hit single with this track which, despite the similar title has nothing to do with De'Lacy's hit from the tail end of last year.
33 LIGHTNING CRASHES (Live)
The first hit after a break of a few months for Live, following on from Selling The Drama which reached Number 30 in July 1995.
37 ROLLERBLADE (Nick Heyward)
One of the more welcome new entries of the week is this one, the first hit single in a long long time for Nick Heyward. He first came to prominence in the early 1980s as lead singer of Haircut 100 on hit singles such as Love Plus One and Fantastic Day in 1982. The following year he left the band to start a solo career which began well in the shape of the Top 20 hits Whistle Down The Wind and Take That Situation. Following that run he struggled and in fact has done ever since. Despite a series of 'comebacks', most recently in 1993, Rollerblade becomes his first Top 40 hit since Warning Sign reached Number 25 in November 1984.
40 EYES OF BLUE (Paul Carrack)
In a week when a number of singles make surprising climbs, Paul Carrack makes a climb that is more and more unusual these days and enters the chart from outside the Top 40, Eyes Of Blue having first charted at Number 49 last week. He is another artist that is better known for his work with groups rather than his solo work, having been the lead singer with Ace, Squeeze and most recently Mike and the Mechanics. He has released solo singles before but none have been successful, the biggest being When You Walk In The Room which reached Number 48 in May 1987. Coincidentally it was Mike and the Mechanics' Beggar On A Beach Of Gold which was one of the last singles to climb up the charts and into the Top 40 back in June last year.